The 140-Character Me
Author & songwriter, lover of little notebooks, dark chocolate & creative energy; inspired by fans to write even on the hardest of days.
My first drafts are always horrible. My writing process is messy.
When I was ten years old, my mom died, and a terrible silence descended over our house. My little journals helped me to survive. In the pages, I gave voice to all the things I couldn’t say out loud: my fears, sadness, confusion, and dreams. Writing made me feel better.
I wanted to be a writer but didn’t think I could because I didn’t have the chance to meet any real writers. Although I secretly wrote many poems, stories, songs, and more, I didn’t try to become a professional writer until I was already out of college and working as a teacher.
My first stories were rejected and rejected and rejected. It took me about ten years to learn my craft, but I didn’t give up.
Now, I write YA novels, fiction for younger ages, songs, articles, essays, poems, plays, postcards, letters to friends, and more.
I am still learning how to let go and just sing.
My dad, mom, and sisters loved to sing, especially in the car, and we always played with harmony. Often our songs were silly, but sometimes, as we were driving home at night and singing a melancholy song, the moment was so intensely beautiful, our voices joining in harmony and spilling out of the unrolled windows into the moonlit sky, I would start to cry.
In school, I lived for chorus. School could be boring, other students hateful, rules unbearable, but as soon as I got to chorus, I would take a deep breath, wait for my cue, and let my voice commune with all the beautiful voices around me.
Now I sing to connect with joy. I can be having a very bad day; and, if I remember to sing, the vibrations of my song will push all my troubles away.
I remind myself: you have to sound bad for a long time in order to learn.
On Playing an Instrument
Can you tell what you’re looking at in this photo? Indentations across the tips of my fingers from pressing down on the guitar strings. I bear my calluses with pride.
As a kid, I tried piano lessons and violin lessons and grew quickly discouraged. I didn’t like the fact that reading music and playing an instrument wasn’t easy and that I wasn’t immediately good at it, and so I quit. As a teen, I tried and quit guitar, too.
In 2006, I picked up a guitar and made myself play for at least ten minutes every day. I was horrible at first, but I improved week by week. Now I’m hooked on both guitar and uke.
I often get ideas when I’m walking, so I carry my writer’s notebook with me everywhere I go.
When I was in the eighth grade, my English teacher brought in Paul Simon’s song, “I am a Rock” and we analyzed the lyrics. I remember how the room changed when he put the music on. It was as if the ceiling had lifted off. That moment, I knew I wanted to write songs.
Now, I write songs for myself and songs for a lot of my books.